Overprotective parents or helicopter parents, call them what you will, is more the norm now than the exception. The days when children freely roamed around with their friends or alone, exploring the neighbourhood, and coming home only at meal times, are over. Parents hardly ever worried or gave much thought to how or where their children were, but this kind of ‘free range’ parenting is almost over. Parents and society has become more protective of children due to several factors. So why are parents overprotective, let’s take a look at some reasons behind it:
The number of kids per family has reduced
On an average, parents have less number of kids than earlier. There was a time when each family had 3-4 kids, maybe more. But these days, most families have 2 or just one child. This gives parents the opportunity to be more involved in their kids’ lives, including supervised play. With less number of children, parents have more time for them, and also worry more about risks.
Parents have to be more vigilant
One of the reasons for overprotective parenting is the fear of ‘anything might happen’, if you let your child out of sight. Most parents would like their children to enjoy the same freedom they enjoyed as children, but those were different times. Everybody knew everybody, and siblings and older children kept an eye on younger one, eliminating the need for parents to ‘hover’. But these days, most families just have one child, which allows parents to look after him/her and consciously or unconsciously, become overprotective. Newspaper stories about child molesters and ‘stranger danger’ too has made parents overprotective.
Both parents work full time and try to make up for lost time with their child/children
Both the parents working full time is one of the reasons for overprotective parenting. To compensate for the time that they’re not with their children, parents spend more time with their kids, which also results in ‘helicopter’ parenting. Many parents were brought up in the 70s and 80s which saw the highest divorce rates, and children were subjected to broken homes. These children, who are parents now, try their best to have a close-knit family.
The trend of ‘nurturing’ for the educational and emotional development of the child
The trend of ‘nurturing’ children to achieve success in their endeavours, also has led to parents micromanaging the activities of their children. Parents earlier left kids to play by themselves, but the norm today is to play and interact with your children, with hardly any time for the child to play alone. Both fathers and mothers are more involved in their kids’ activities, keeping them close. This phenomenon has the effect of even slightly older children being dependent on their parents and unable to play on their own. Thus, ‘nurturing’ has to have a balance, otherwise children would be unable to cope with situations on their own. In fact, overprotected kids might be anxious when they are away from the presence of their parents.
Children’s outdoor activities are more structured
why are parents overprotective? This is because now there are higher expectations from children as well as parents’ have their own ambitions. Earlier, parents would drop children off for birthday parties and sports / music practices. But now, due to 24×7 reports of children being abused, parents are no longer comfortable about leaving their children alone to enjoy their social engagements. Ambitions also play a major role in parents monitoring their child’s development in music and sports – the children, more often than not are expected to fulfill their parents’ dreams.
Children have fewer playmates in the neighborhood
Children most often spend their time inside, as they do not or have very few friends in the neighborhood. Even though there may be other children, everyone has different activities, which does not leave any time for free playing in the neighborhood. Neighborhood busybodies who call 911 is also a reason why are parents overprotective, or forced to be, because they may be charged with ‘negligence’.
Due to the changing outlook of society which mostly views free range parenting with suspicion, ‘stranger danger’, structured activities etc, parents have become overprotective of their kids. There is a fine line between being protective and being overprotective, but it’s for every parent and every family to decide the boundaries, in order to raise independent, confident children.